PETER O'KEEFFE won the biggest prize in Cork golf on Sunday.
After 72 holes he won the Munster Stroke Play and added his name to the famous Cork Scratch Cup.
O’Keeffe had a blistering performance on Sunday, he entered the final 36 holes 4 off the lead but ended up winning by seven strokes.
Two rounds of 70 put on Saturday put him in contention going into the second day. Saturday’s performance included 11 birdies and one eagle, and that gave the Douglas golfer the confidence to know his game was good enough to win.
O’Keeffe reached the halfway stage on -4, and he was four shot off the lead held by Keith Egan and Eoin Murphy.
After the third round O’Keeffe led by three stroke thanks to a very impressive 67 (-5).
O’Keeffe started the final round in impressive form, he birdied the first and second before chipping in for eagle on the tough fifth hole.
Although he dropped a few shots on the 8th and 9th, none of the chasers were making an impact and O’Keeffe continued to dominate.
Despite this, O’Keeffe wasn’t finished, a birdie on 10 was followed by an eagle on 11. Two more birdies followed including one on the 18th where his 12 foot putt found the cup to seal the win in style. O’Keeffe, who won the Irish Amateur Open in 2017, was delighted with his win.
“It’s nice to win like that,” said a smiling O’Keeffe.
“I knew I was playing well coming into this week. I wasn’t happy at all with how I played yesterday, just too many mistakes, but today, at one point I didn’t even know what score I was on, I was just really in every shot.”
O’Keeffe had won in Mallow the previous, and after that win he credited his driving as the primary for his good form.
He brought all of his game to Cork at the weekend. 23 birdies and three eagles were the positives on the scorecard, an amazing return for 72 holes at Cork Golf Club.
Although he added a few bogies, the winning score of -14 was a new record. The seven stroke margin of his win was also impressive, former winner Alan Fahy and Aaron Ryan (Thurles) were tied on -7.
O’Keeffe is the first local winner since Cathal Butler won in a play-off in 2016. Kanturk’s Christopher made a positive debut in the championship, he was the next best player from Cork, he finished on -1 in 12th place.
Monkstown’s Sean Desmond was one shot back on level par. Desmond got off to a flier on Sunday morning, he was five under for his first four holes after an eagle and three birdies.
Gary O’Flaherty finished in the top twenty while both Greg O’Mahony and Paul Buckley finished down the field after challenging on Saturday.
Once again the course in Cork Golf Club proved to be a test for everyone. Even though the winner had 23 birdies and 3 eagles, he also had 13 bogeys and a double bogey.
The greens were running fast and true, but finding them was problematic if you missed the fairway. In all four rounds there were plenty of scores in the high seventies and even a few in the eighties.
Considering that the field had an average handicap of +2, the course stood up to some of the best amateurs in the country.
Course superintendent Simon O’Hara had the course in excellent condition, with many of the changes from earlier in the year now bedded in.
The Strokeplay winner will proved hard to beat on a course that he likes.
“I’ve a lot of friends here and this is one of my favourite golf courses. I bogeyed the last here a couple of years ago to lose by a shot but I generally play well here and I expected to do well.
"I Simon is a credit to the club, the golf course was perfectly prepared and presented. I love this place and it’s brilliant to win this tournament now.”
O’Keeffe will be back in Cork next Sunday, his Douglas team are taking on Muskerry in the area final of the AIG Senior Cup.
Douglas have been in impressive form in the opening three matches, Karl Bornemann and Jack Murphy have been unbeaten at home with O’Keeffe also winning his three matches at the away venue.
Muskerry beat Fota, Bantry and Bandon on their way to the final and can’t be written off.
It should be a close encounter between the two teams.